ISSN 1067-4136, Russian Journal of Ecology, 2008, Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 398–404. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2008.
Original Russian Text © V.A. Kolbin, 2008, published in Ekologiya, 2008, No. 6, pp. 420–426.
Fires have been a major factor in the history of for-
ests in many regions of the earth. Fire-dependent com-
munities are often formed in areas where intervals
between ﬁres range from 2 to 20 years (Spurr and Bar-
nes, 1984; Prodon, 1987; Wooller and Calver, 1988). In
the Northern Amur Region, economic development has
resulted in the increasing intensity and frequency of
forest ﬁres; as a consequence, the species composition
and structure of natural communities has changed.
Especially vulnerable in this situation are the most
valuable, highly productive communities with a high
biological diversity. In particular, this concerns com-
munities of dark conifer–deciduous forests, which have
either disappeared or survived only in small refugia
such as river sandbanks and islands. Throughout the
Amur Region, an increase is observed in the area of
secondary forests, which are periodically affected by
ﬁres and therefore cannot reach the climax stage. The
same applies to pyrogenic communities dominated by
shrubs. In some respects, they are similar to the chapar-
ral, where wildﬁre is a factor maintaining the current
community structure (Odum, 1975; Ricklefs, 1979;
Spurr and Barnes, 1984). Most Russian authors justly
categorize the effect of forest ﬁres as negative
(Kurentsov, 1967; Voronov, 1990). On the other hand, it
is clear that the concept of forest ﬁre prevention and
immediate ﬁghting is actually impracticable. Under
conditions of annually occurring droughts and increas-
ing anthropogenic impact, secondary forests and ﬁre-
dependent ecosystems in the Amur Region are expand-
ing and require special attention.
The purpose of this study was to analyze changes in
the regional avifauna in the course of replacement of
primary dark conifer–deciduous forests by secondary
MATERIAL AND METHODS
Studies were performed in the Komsomol’skii and
Norskii nature reserves (ﬁgure) located at the northeast-
ern and northwestern distribution boundaries of species
representing the Manchurian fauna in the Amur Region
(Vorob’ev, 1954; Kurentsov, 1965).
The Komsomol’skii Reserve (64398.4 ha) is at the
mouth of the Gorin River, a left-bank tributary of the
Amur, 40 km downstream of Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
It lies at the eastern distribution boundary of the nem-
oral ﬂora and fauna, including dark conifer–deciduous
forests growing on the left bank of the Amur. Although
some representatives of the Manchurian avifauna
expand northeast, toward the mouth of the Amur, the
ranges of most these species end in the reserve (Kolbin
et al., 1994; Kolbin and Babenko, 1995; Babenko,
2000). The same, but with respect to the northwestern
distribution boundary of the Manchurian fauna, can be
said about the Norskii Reserve (211168 ha) located in
the Nora–Selemdzha interﬂuve, Amur oblast (Kolbin,
2005). West of this area, representatives of the Manchu-
rian avifauna occur sporadically and play no apprecia-
ble role in bird assemblages. By the end of observations
in the Komsomol’skii Reserve (1994), ﬁre had affected
two-thirds of its area. In the Norskii Reserve, more than
95% of the total area had repeatedly suffered from ﬁre.
Observations in the Komsomol’skii Reserve contin-
ued from 1984 to 1994; in the Norskii Reserve, they
Effect of Forest Fires on the Avifauna
of the Northern Amur Region
V. A. Kolbin
Visherskii State Nature Reserve, ul. Gagarina 36B, Krasnovishersk, Perm krai, 618590 Russia;
Received April 20, 2007
—To reveal the effect of forest ﬁres on the avifauna of the Northern Amur Region, bird assemblages
of primary dark conifer–deciduous forests, wild rosemary larch forests, and secondary larch–birch forests have
been studied in the Komsomol’skii and Norskii nature reserves. It has been shown that the replacement of pri-
mary dark conifer–deciduous forests by secondary forests is accompanied by a signiﬁcant decrease in bird pop-
ulation density, with some species being lost and the composition of the dominant species group being changed.
On the other hand, ﬁres lead to increasing patchiness of the environment, which can sometimes provide for an
increase in biological diversity.
: bird fauna, pyrogenic and ﬁre-dependent communities, habitat patchiness, species diversity.